Posts Tagged ‘Listening’


A second post was necessary because the Lectionary gave such rich stories from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament for Sunday June 9– Pentecost Sunday. What’s a lectionary? It is the way readings are designed (one from Hebrew Bible, one Psalm or portion, One Gospel, and One Epistle (letter)) for each Sunday so that in 3 years all texts are touched upon in Sunday worship.  Aside from the birth of the church (Acts 2) and the ancient myth of Babel (Genesis 11) there was a gospel reading (perhaps a youtube video to come)…but there was a Psalm and a writing of Paul that I think speaks to our current time, where politically, religiously and everywhere we are becoming so entrenched we are unable to actually discuss topics for growth.

The last provincial election in Alberta illustrated this point, especially with producing a legislature made up of only 2 parties. Essentially one must say I hold to this or that. The party machines do not have to actually listen to constituents. It also crops up in Environmentalism, sports, religion… no middle ground of consensus or question asking allowed… just blind devotion and if you are not of the blind devotees you are the outsider.

Let’s pause and wonder what that means? The ancient prayer attributed to St. Francis has a line in it about Seeking to understand and not be understood. Even 800 years ago we had this glitch. Listening to build a response, to correct, or to pummel our belief system NOT to actually listen to the person and see what is happening below the surface. This is how we lose the focus on addiction treatment because we treat the addiction not the root causes (lack of belonging, trauma). Why we are lost in a society of chronic anxiety (what if I don’t hold point a or b, then I do not belong, I am not worthy). The list can go on and on.

Over the past several years I was finally sidelined by a life of ministry due to, finally diagnosed, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (due to a-typical PTSD).  It led to my current book as I entered into the treatment and healing process, Soul Ripples, which first started out as a story of mental health in my family, and then laser pointed to how those stepping stones led to me in ministry, and seeking to answer the question of who is my neighbour?

The answer though is found first, in the quote of Francis of Assisi, seek to understand not be understood. Understand those before me, understand those who came before me, understand how it works within my own life…for creation is interdependent.

This brings us to our first reflective piece from the Psalms. These are ancient poems, prayers, hymns and songs that reflect the story of God with Creation, and Creation with God, in all its glory and ugliness. Consider these words from Psalm 104: 24-35 (ESV):

Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.[b]

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,[c] they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

 

In our thankfully dying or dead Christendom there are three doctrines that have created the inter-generational and cross creation traumas that still permeate our world today. The doctrine of Dominion, Discovery and Colonialism. Colonialism is the might makes right, our god is mightier than your god so we are coming in to take control as we were not there it is now ours (plant a flag if you will) definitely ripples from the ancient world until today (for Trekkies this the Cardassian, Klingon or Romulan mindset). The other is Discovery, which Rev. Mark Tremblay of Knox Presbtyerian in Calgary had an excellent discussion on June 10 about. I will give a sound byte at best, but it is the idea that due to discovery a new land it is now ours to do with as we see fit–our right to exterminate or proselytize at the point of the sword as we see fit (carried through from at least the Crusades, but also a formed vengeance response in my opinion from how the Roman Empire treated Christians before Constantine converted circa 325 CE making Christianity and Empire Religion and birthing Christendom). All these backed up by politically informed translations of ancient stories and teachings (as even after Protestantism, the churches were mostly driven by Monarchs ruling by divine right).

Doctrine of Dominion comes out of the stories in Genesis 3, original sin or blessing depending on your point of view, as Adam and Eve are removed from the garden they are given the earth… The idea that fuels dominion is it is ours to basically use as we see fit.Which has led to some atrocious practices overtime. The rise of environmentalism is a good thing for it recaptures that we were blessed to be caretakers of creation for it is interdependent with us. This is what we can learn and share with our Indigenous family. The challenge is to understand what that means.

Instead as we work to move through the death of Christendom how to care for creation has become screaming echo chambers where you are either a dominionist or an environmentalists. That is wrong. Extremism exists in all movements. Why I say it is wrong because it removes all of the human family from the equation, it accepts a some left behind philosophy which is not what resonates within the words of this Psalm. For Canada today it is becoming the bridge of healing, and seeking to understand. Declaring a ban on single use plastics is not effective. What is effective is a discussion with all who will be impacted. It can be as fascious as I dislike paper straws to some persons with disabilities who literally need a single use plastic straw to drink for life.

What do you do with this? You do not knee jerk to answer with whatever your stock answer is. You do not throw out terms of medical exemptions to further stigmatize. You talk to citizens and stake holders and find out what is possible. What can be easily banned (plastic bags can be replaced by hemp, or compostable bags) and challenge industry of cigarettes that filters are no longer allowed, you then move to the challenge looking at places like Nordic countries that have ways to transform garbage to energy. See what begins happening? You look to a problem, you address it in a way that comes to a solid grounding of moving through and dealing with the issue with the best impact to creation as a whole, but no citizen is left behind. For change management understand that every change is a form of grieving, for some losses have been compounding regardless of ideology and for health, to end hate and anger, we need to address it honestly, openly and give space for healthy release and redirection.

Why?

Well, see I think if you hold to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, then you have to think of Paul. He was a lynch mob leader, high religious authority that through mystical experience came to discover what authentic love and belonging were (what God’s love is big enough for all, no qualifiers? Yes it is, Jesus said so). Anywho…look at this reminder language as Paul tries to break the ideological entrenchment of insider/outsider in the early church between Jewish and Non-Jewish believers in a letter he wrote to the gathering in Rome (Romans 8:14-17):

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

This is why Christendom was politics, power and control. It was explicitly what Jesus and his early followers fought against. It created a caste system and, in the vernacular of some old police procedural shows and mysteries “NHI” (no humans involved). Paul echoed as strongly as he could that the old ways, the old chains were shattered, we were family. The adoption language has been used to enforce the barbarism of Christendom, most recently Residential Schools in Canada, for it allows the idea that it is up to us to be a refuge and civilization-share the faith, the nice language we cloak our institutionalized genocide in, because they were “heathen” or NHI.

But here’s the thing…Jesus was adopted by Joseph. The Empire saw Jesus, Joseph and Mary as NHI, even those Jesus built community with it is how the religious saw those folks. Hitting close to home? Who are the NHI or your movement? May not be overt hate statements, could be like the straw ban, well y’know but the planet…

Or it could be the old stand by “I hate the sin, but love the sinner”…

Nope.

Family.

Love no qualifiers.

It is the qualifiers where we get into trouble. It is in Dominion, Discovery, and Colonialism. As we continue to reconcile, speak truth, and attempt to listen where our structures do not allow for true healing. Where we have a report after listening of decades of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls where it fits definitions of genocide but international law does not allow for statements to be made strongly to that effect. In essence those that would take the stand could then be the one’s prosecuted for it, which is not right. We are the grandchildren of a system, echos are still reverberating, but what drove it is dead or dying…the Quiet Revolution Quebec had in the 1930-1940’s, is echoing across Canada.

But we do need to listen, and not to respond or continue to slam with facts. We need to listen to those that affirm, question, and deny… listen to understand what is happening in their own hearts. You can not destroy hate and anger with more hate and anger, but you can heal it with love.

And some savvy words spoken in wisdom…for wherever one is on the spectrum of whether it was genocide or not…one thing as a nation we need to truly affirm is that those commissioned to protect us as citizens, our police forces/services, have allowed serial rapists and serial killers to propagate unchecked within our borders for decades because of who the victims were.

We let horrors happen to our neighbour, because we did not want to look in the mirror and challenge our underlying assumptions of life. Which truly, if you have taken on the Christian Journey as laid out by our Brother Jesus of Nazareth, it is a constant re-examining…

When you approach ethics, morality, values and those undervalued who are your NHI’s?

Are you willing to leave someone unprotected or behind to remain unchallenged or comfortable in your ideology?

Or

Are you willing to listen, and love for a better world.

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